Have you ever heard God’s voice? I mean really heard His voice, not just an inkling in your spirit? I always imagined God to sound like a big black man. Like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman. But I’ve never actually audibly hear God’s voice. Truth be told, most Christians haven’t. And almost as many would probably say that they’ve never really felt an unction in their spirit, either. Why is that? Does God not speak? Or are we not listening?
A long, long time ago in a land far, far away, there was a boy who heard a voice. It called his name in the night. The boy got up and ran to his mentor asking what was required of him. The old man told the boy to go back to sleep, no one had called him. Again, the voice called and the boy ran. The old man, once more sent him back to bed. Yet again the voice called the boy’s name and he got up. Finally, the old priest, Eli, realised what was happening. This time, he instructed the boy to respond a certain way when he heard the voice.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10 (NIV)
Many imagine the voice of the Lord to be a terrible thing, shaking the earth and splitting stones. But a sound like that would have terrified a child in the night. Instead, Samuel immediately ran to Eli. God’s voice sounded familiar to him.
In 1 Kings 19:11-12, the voice of God spoke to Elijah. After a powerful wind, an earthquake, and fire, he heard a gentle whisper.
In Isaiah 6, the sound of angels crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” shook the temple, and afterward, Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord calling to him.
In Acts 9, Saul was brought to a sudden stop with a blinding light. When the Lord called out to him, Saul knew immediately who spoke.
No two accounts of man hearing the voice of God are the same, but they all have a couple of things in common.
- They weren’t afraid. None of these people feared or cowered at God’s voice. His voice was familiar and, in most cases, gentle. Unlike the angels—who always had to tell people not to fear, God’s voice is nothing to cringe at.
- They were listening. In some cases, God had to get someone’s attention. In the case of Samuel, it was the fourth time that was a charm. In the case of Saul, He had to blind him to get him to listen. But they listened.
Close your eyes. Listen. How many sounds can you identify as you sit where you are? At the moment, I can hear the fan of a heater and my computer, I hear the fridge in the next room, there’s a car speeding up the hill near my house, and a clock is ticking on the wall above me. I hear the landlord’s footsteps on the hardwood floor overhead and the house creaking as it settles. Most of those sounds I can’t even turn off.
Our ears and our minds are constantly bombarded with noise and then we have the audacity to claim that God isn’t speaking or that, if He wanted to get our attention, He would. Only in very special cases, like Saul (who later became known as Paul), did God arrest someone to give them a certain message. We allow distractions to fill our heads to our own detriment. Most of us can’t stand the silence. Yet that’s where God’s voice usually is.
We need to make time to listen. We need to block out the noise to hear. I am confident in this: God wants to speak to you.
He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.
John 8:47 (NIV)
Those are Jesus’ words, not mine. If we really, truly belong to God, we’ll make time for Him. We will listen, not for the wind or the quaking, but the whisper.
Is anybody listening?
Read: 1 Samuel 1-3, Luke 12:1-34